The Ultimate Washington Coast Elopement Guide

When I say “elopement on the beach,” what do you picture? Palm trees, endless sun, warmer water? Or unique cliffsides, powerful waves, maybe rocks instead of warm sand? If the second category speaks to you, then you’re in the right place. The Pacific Northwest has, by far, the most unique landscapes in the entire continental US, and the Washington coast is ideal for a jaw-dropping, once-in-a-lifetime elopement experience. 

There isn’t much out there when it comes to planning a beachy Washington elopement, so I thought I’d change that! In this guide, you’ll find a breakdown of the best locations to get married on the beaches in Washington, and a ton of important information about each one like permits, getting there, where to stay, what it’s like, and more!

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Weather & Seasons on the Washington Coast for an Elopement

I hope it doesn’t cause you even more indecision about your elopement when I tell you that you can have your elopement on the Washington coast at any time of year. There are pros and cons to each season, so it all depends on the kind of day you’re hoping to have!

Broadly speaking, summer is sunniest and warmest, but also busiest. Winter will be wetter, colder, windier in a lot of places, but much less crowded. 

Some locations may be blocked off or difficult to access deep in the wintertime, especially in Olympic National Park. If you’re planning to elope at any of these locations in the cold seasons, make sure you keep an eye on your location access and have a backup just in case. 

In general, all the places I’ll talk about here are best suited for an off-season elopement. I say this because lots of couples tend to feel more comfortable with as private an experience as possible, and you can still get gorgeously sunny days in the spring or into fall. 

Cape Flattery

History & Fun Facts

Cape Flattery is the northernmost point of the continental US. Rugged rocks, unparalleled views of the ocean, and lots of unique bird life make this a super cool spot for an elopement on the Washington coast. 

Cape Flattery is located on land belonging to the Makah tribe, and they manage access to it. The sea was and is a huge part of life for the Makah people, who historically were incredible mariners. Indirect contact with Europeans in the late 1700s had devastating effects for this people.

Entrances & Fees

A Makah Recreation Pass is required to park at the trailhead. You’ll have to purchase one in-person at one of the 7 available locations. It costs $20 and is valid for one year from the purchase date. The trailhead is at the end of Cape Flattery Road, which you can follow from the town of Neah Bay.

Permit Info

You’ll only need your Recreation Pass to access Cape Flattery. No additional wedding permit is required here!

Accessibility

The Cape Flattery trail has boardwalk sections, dirt sections, and stairs. On your way out to the viewpoints, it’s an elevation decline of 200 feet. You’ll have to climb a bit to get back to the parking lot. This is not a good elopement location on the Washington coast if stairs are a challenge or unmanageable for you!

Hikes, Trails, & More

Once you’re parked at the trailhead, it’s just 0.75 miles to the overlook. You’ll be walking through thick, lush forest before breaking out onto the cliff sides with views of the ocean. There are restrooms at the trailhead, as well as picnic tables on the observation platform.

Places to Stay Nearby

The town of Neah Bay has a few really cute hotels. Hobuck Beach Resort has cabins and RV parking space. Cape Resort is the same. There are also a variety of homes and stays on Airbnb in Neah Bay and in the surrounding areas!

Two brides embrace and snuggle into each other at their Washington coast elopement

Shi Shi Beach

History & Fun Facts

The trail at Shi Shi Beach will give you both rainforest hiking and beach strolling! This beach is famous as an overnight camping spot. If you’re picturing an elopement on the Washington coast where you get to actually be right on the water, Shi Shi Beach is a great option.

Shi Shi Beach is also managed by the Makah tribe, but it extends into Olympic National Park, so there are sections that are managed by the National Park Service. 

Entrances & Fees

The Makah Recreation Pass is needed for Shi Shi Beach. If you plan to camp overnight, you’ll also need a Wilderness Camping Permit issued by the National Park Service. Take the same road out of Neah Bay as you would for Cape Flattery to reach Shi Shi Beach.

Permit Info

If you get married on a section of Shi Shi Beach that lies on the Makah tribe lands, you’re all set with just your recreation pass. 

If you venture further south and plan to get married on a stretch managed by the National Park Service, you’ll need a special use permit, which you can get here. This permit will cost you between $50-$100.  

Accessibility

The trails around Shi Shi Beach are maintained boardwalks, as well as some muddy roads and sandy beaches. Heavy rain will make it harder to get around. High tide can potentially trap you in certain areas, so keeping a map of the tides with you if you plan to adventure in this area is a must. 

Hikes, Trails, & More

Any hiking you do at Shi Shi Beach is considered “easy!” You can walk anywhere between 2 miles to 4.5 miles along the paths. There are restrooms at the trailhead and at certain points along the beach. Pets are permitted along the trail, but only as far as the National Park boundary.

Places to Stay Nearby

Hobuck Beach Resort, Cape Resort, and Airbnb stays are all going to be great choices for Shi Shi Beach as well as Cape Flattery.

A black and white picture of a moody day at La Push Beach in Olympic National Park

La Push

History & Fun Facts

La Push is known for whale-watching and its wild, rugged environment. And, of course, the Twilight franchise. 

La Push is the biggest coastal town within the Quileute tribe reservation. The Quileute (and the Makah) were once whalers, as well as talented builders and craftsmen. They also have immense knowledge of the medicinal qualities found in the flora of their home. 

An elopement in this Washington coast town is nothing short of charming and beautiful! 

Entrances & Fees

You’ll have a choice between a few different beaches for your elopement in La Push. First, Second, and Third Beaches are all managed by the Quileute and have powerful waves, offshore rock formations, and hiking trails connecting them. 

First Beach is just a few steps from the parking lot at La Push, so there’s no need to hike in for this one. 

You can access Second and Third Beaches by driving from Highway 110 to the trailhead. Second Beach is a 2.1 mile out and back hike, and Third Beach is 3.6.

The Quileute people do have etiquette requests for people visiting their lands, which you can check out here.

To access La Push and its beaches, you’ll need a $30 Olympic National Park entrance pass. You can buy these online or at the gate.

Permit Info

Since La Push and its beaches technically rest inside Olympic National Park, you’ll need a special use permit to hold your elopement ceremony at this Washington coast location. You can find the permit application here. 

Accessibility

First Beach is the most accessible of the three, since the parking lot is so close. The other two beaches have hikes that get quite steep, with some blockades like trees or driftwood you may have to climb over. The trails are well maintained, but not wheelchair accessible. 

Hikes, Trails, & More

The hikes to reach Second and Third Beaches are absolutely stunning. Even with a few difficult spots, you’ll be walking through gorgeous trees to reach the beaches, which have amazing tide pools, huge rock formations, etc.

Places to Stay Nearby

I recommend staying in Forks for your elopement here. There are some beautiful cabins on Airbnb like this one, or this one.

Two brides with long, dark hair stand on top of a pile of driftwood logs with their hands in the air, celebrating at their washington coast elopement

Washington Coast Elopement Locations in Olympic National Park

Rialto Beach

History & Fun Facts

A coastal forest and ocean beach landscape, Rialto Beach has tons of unique driftwood, tide pools, and all the moody vibes. 

There’s also some cool rock formations here! 

Entrances & Fees

You can get to Rialto Beach two ways from Seattle. If you go north, you’ll take the ferry to Bainbridge Island, then through Port Angeles. 

The other route is to drive south through Tacoma and Olympia, then loop back up on Highway 101. 

Going north is technically faster, but the ferry may be busy and delay you more than you would expect. 

To get into Olympic National Park, you’ll pay a $30 vehicle pass fee.

Permit Info

All Washington coast elopement locations that are inside Olympic National Park will require that you have a special use permit before holding your ceremony. You can apply here. 

Accessibility

Rialto Beach is one of the most accessible in Olympic National Park. Beach hiking/walking is rated “easy” and there is some wheelchair accessibility here (less in the summer). The beach is primarily deep, loose cobblestones so finding your footing may be tricky. See more about Rialto and accessibility from Disabled Hikers.

Hikes, Trails, & More

Rialto Beach is technically a “beach trail” that leads you to Hole-in-the-Wall, a rock arch with tons of cool tide pools. It’s less of a trail and more of a leisurely stroll down the beach, but so fun to explore Hole-in-the-Wall. 

There are vault toilets near the parking lot, and some picnic tables before you actually get out onto the beach. Overnight camping is allowed on Rialto Beach with a permit, so you’ll probably see some backpackers here. 

Places to Stay Nearby

You can stay in Forks or Port Angeles for an elopement on the Washington coast in Olympic NP. 

Two brides hold each other and gaze out at the rocky coast at their elopement on the Washington coastline

Ruby Beach

History & Fun Facts

Ruby Beach is beautiful. Tide pools, striking sea stacks, and so much driftwood. On a foggy day, Ruby Beach becomes ethereal and otherworldly. 

Ruby Beach is the location of two separate armed confrontations between the Spanish/British and the Quinault Tribe. An island just off the coast was named Destruction Island in memory of those who perished in these battles.

Entrances & Fees

To get into Olympic National Park, you’ll pay a $30 vehicle pass fee.

Heading northbound on Highway 101, the parking lot for Ruby Beach is just past mile marker 164. The road and parking lot for Ruby Beach was just re-paved in summer 2022, which makes it easier to access. 

From Forks, travel southbound on US 101 for 27 miles and turn right following signage for Ruby Beach just past mile marker 165.

Permit Info

All Washington coast elopement locations that are inside Olympic National Park will require that you have a special use permit before holding your ceremony. You can apply here.

Accessibility

As of September 2022, Ruby Beach has just reopened with some major accessibility improvements! Curbs, sidewalks, crosswalks, and stairs have been installed in order to comply with the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards. There have also been railings installed, updates to the bathrooms, and a storm drain access system installed to reduce the effects of erosion.

Hikes, Trails, & More

The trail from the parking lot to Ruby Beach is only a quarter-mile long, so you’ll be down on the water in no time! It is fairly steep right at the end, but accessibility is much improved, where previously a driftwood scramble was required to actually get on the beach.

Places to Stay Nearby

You can stay in Forks or Port Angeles for an elopement on the Washington coast in Olympic NP. 

Kalaloch Beaches

History & Fun Facts

Kalaloch is one of the most-visited spots in all of Olympic National Park! This area of the coast is a dedicated Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, where all the coastal species are protected. 

Kalaloch is a famous spot for bird-watching. Beach 4 also has lots of great tidepools, with colorful starfish and more. 

There are technically 4 beaches at Kalaloch, and each one offers something unique. 

Entrances & Fees

To get into Olympic National Park, you’ll pay a $30 vehicle pass fee.

You can orient yourself using Kalaloch Lodge as a reference — driving south from the lodge for 1 mile will get you to the parking area of Beach 2. You can also take a short 10-minute walk from the lodge to the beaches.

Permit Info

All Washington coast elopement locations that are inside Olympic National Park will require that you have a special use permit before holding your ceremony. You can apply here.

Accessibility

Kalaloch Beaches are primarily broad, sandy oceanfront. Each beach has some difficulties with getting to the actual sand, but once you’re there it’s considered easy walking. Some of the beach stretches at Kalaloch require steep scrambles, making them pretty much inaccessible for wheelchair users. You can see more about accessibility on the Kalaloch Beaches here from Disabled Hikers.

Hikes, Trails, & More

Here’s a handy map of the Kalaloch Beach area!

There are less forest-y trails in the Kalaloch region, but beachy walks next to the ocean are just as amazing. Be sure to check the tides so that you don’t get stuck in any impassable areas during high tide. 

Places to Stay Nearby

You can stay in Forks or Port Angeles for an elopement on the Washington coast in Olympic NP. 

Tree of Life

At Kalaloch Beach, right near Kalaloch Campground, you can also find the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is a Sitka Spruce tree that connects two pieces of cliffside. The tree’s roots have been exposed by erosion over time, and miraculously it has stayed alive that whole time. 

This is a world-famous visitor spot at Kalaloch, and is so special as an elopement location, even just for some portraits. There can be a lot of people here, but if you don’t mind an audience, it’s a very meaningful spot for a ceremony as well. Metaphors, you know?

A bride and groom kiss at their washington coast elopement in front of the famous tree of life

Cape Disappointment

History & Fun Facts

Cape Disappointment is the furthest south on my list of Washington coast elopement locations. This park is located where the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River meet, right on the Oregon/Washington border. 

There is lots of maritime and military history to be explored here, as well as the Lewis and Clark expedition. 

Cape Disappointment has tall cliff sides, lighthouses, camping, cabins, and the powerful ocean. 

Entrances & Fees

You’ll need a Discover Pass to access Cape Disappointment. You can buy either a single day pass or an annual pass. There are pay stations at the entrances to the park, or you can buy one ahead of time. 

There are exemptions to needing the Discover Pass, like if you stay overnight in the park. 

Permit Info

The state parks system in Washington requires that you have both a Special Activities Permit and a still photography permit in order to get married and have the occasion documented. 

We can discuss details for the still photography permit once we’re in the planning stages of your Washington coast elopement at Cape Disappointment! 

The Special Activities Permit can be found here. A $45 application fee is due at the time you turn in your application. Be sure you turn both these things in at least 60 days before your event.  

Accessibility

There are two short wheelchair-accessible trails in Cape Disappointment State Park. The first is the hike out to the North Head Lighthouse, a looped trail that’s about 0.6 miles. From the parking lot to the lighthouse is paved. The back half of the loop is gravel, and it’s a bit steeper.

The second accessible trail is Bell’s Overlook, which is accessed from the same parking lot. This is a nice boardwalk trail that’s a quarter mile long. This one is steeper, so it can be a bit more work with a wheelchair, but the views at the overlook are incredible. 

Hikes, Trails, & More

There are over a dozen trails in Cape Disappointment State Park if you’re looking for an adventurous hiking elopement. You can check out AllTrails list of the top 10 hikes in the park here. These range from easy to challenging, from half a mile to 17 miles. 

Places to Stay Nearby

One of the really cool things about Cape Disappointment is that you can stay in the park! 

The yurt options sleep 3, are ADA accessible, and are heated. 

The cabins are on the shore of Lake O’Neil, each sleeping three people. Some of them allow pets, and all have heat, fire pits, with bathrooms and showers close by.

You can also try to book the lighthouse residences, which are reservable up to nine months in advance. These would be a super unique elopement experience, and the residences are gorgeous too. 

A man and woman dressed formally kiss passionately in front of a cliff on the Washington coastline at Cape Disappointment State Park

All the info you need about having a Washington coast elopement is now yours! In my opinion, there is nothing better than getting married with these unique beaches as your setting, whether foggy or rainy or windy or sunny. It would be my honor to serve as your Washington elopement photographer at any of these gorgeous beaches — reach out to me here.

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